|04-15-2016, 12:58 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Camrose, Alberta
A New Person: A Fictional Hedgehog Story
Let me give a bit of backstory first before I just plop this pile of fiction in your faces. I have a bachelor's degree in English, which is practically useless in a small town, and I've been having a tough time finding work online. While I was in school I focused on professional and creative writing, and I have piles of ideas for novels floating around in my head. With all the down time lately, I decided to finish the novel I've put the most progress into, so I've been chipping away at that. But these past few days I've had to stop and consider some plot alternatives, so I decided to do a few writing exercises to keep myself going.
This exercise was an attempt to write using a very different style than I usually do. I typically write dark humor, realism, sci fi, or light fantasy. I love hybridizing the four or blurring genre lines. But I hadn't written a cutesy, feel-good story in a long time. So that's what I have for all of you this morning.
Since I'm pretty much a writer by trade, I'm open to critiques, complaints, or any other comments. Let me know what you think! And thanks for having a look!
A New Person
Radley the African pygmy hedgehog woke up one evening, and he snuffled at the air. "Hmm," he thought to himself, "why doesn't it smell like food?" Still sniffing, Radley ventured out of his blanket pile in search of dinner. When he got to the bowl, he stuck his whole face inside. It was empty! How strange! It usually showed up while he was sleeping. But sometimes it didn't. He licked the bottom of the bowl. It tasted old and stale, and a bit like the cardboard hut he had nibbled on once. "Well I guess I'll just have a drink then," Radley mused. He waddled through last night's poop over to his bottle, where he lapped at the spout. He was so thirsty and the water dripped out so very slowly, but Radley was persistent, and eventually he managed to slurp up enough to drink. "Ahh, that's better. Now what should I play tonight?"
Radley looked around his little abode. The food bowl, still empty, the water bottle, low after his big drink, his blanket pile, messy and smelly, just how he liked it, and the floor, covered in shavings and hedgehog poop. It wasn't much, but it was home, and he loved it. It was safe and secure and nothing scary ever happened. Radley ran laps around his cage until he wore himself out, had another dozen sips of water, and checked his food dish one more time to see if it had filled while he was busy. It hadn't. After his big play session, Radley was quite hungry. His tummy made a weird noise. He decided to go back to bed instead of playing another round of the run in circles game. He was so hungry. Radley nestled back down into his pile of blankets and snuggled in for a nap. As he was dozing off, the person showed up. She turned on the sun, but didn't lift the blankets, or check the food, or fill the water. She just walked past the cage to get something. Radley got a little bit scared, but no one ever bothered him, so he dozed off once the door shut and it was dark again.
The sun turned on again much later and much more gradually, but Radley slept. He snored slightly while his person brought another person into the room and they talked. Radley didn't hear anything, and he didn't wake up. Radley didn't know it, but things were about to get really scary really fast.
Annie and her guest stood in the room with the small grey pinto hedgehog. Annie explained that the little pet was boring, and too much work, and all he ever did was try to hurt her because he was so mean. Annie's guest nodded and agreed and told her, "That's alright, I've had them in the past and I really like them."
Annie smiled slightly for the first time since she had met this stranger. "Oh, good. Do you want to see him first?"
"No, that's alright, I trust your pictures. And if he's not in there I know where you live." They both laughed. Radley rustled slightly in his sleep and rolled over, tucking his head away from the noise.
"Okay," Annie said abruptly, "he's all yours if you want him. Is one hundred a good price for you?"
"Sure, that'll be just fine." The stranger handed Annie some money. "Do you mind if I come back later to pick him up? I'd like to buy a few supplies and get the room set up first."
"Sounds good. Just text me before you're ready to get him."
The stranger nodded, said goodbye, and left the house. Annie smiled. Radley would be leaving later that night. She was a little sad, but she really hoped he'd be going somewhere better.
It had just started to get dark again when Radley's tummy rumbles woke him up. He snuffled at the air. It still didn't smell like food. But it did smell different. He stayed in his blankets. Suddenly, the door opened and a person came in. Radley twitched his nose at her, safe in his fort, and she glanced in at him. "I can see your nose, silly." Radley panicked. No she couldn't! He huff huff huffed and balled up slightly. The new person laughed gently. And then she picked up Radley's house! The whole thing shook and wobbled, and Radley was afraid. This had never happened before. He balled up completely, spikes out in every direction. What was this scary person doing?! Why was he moving? He didn't like it at all.
The cage was moved out of Radley's room, down the stairs, and out another door. Radley didn't know anything about outside his room. Let alone outside his house. As the new person lifted the cage into another strange room, Radley huffed and growled. The scary person was doing something he had never experienced before and it was terrible. What if she wanted to eat him? She probably did. A door closed, but it made an odd metal sound. Radley popped and huffed and mumbled. "Don't eat me, don't eat me" he chanted to himself. And then the cage bouncing got worse, and everything got louder, and he felt like he was moving really fast but he was still stationary inside his cage, inside his blankets. Radley didn't know what to do, so he stayed tucked up snugly and waited. It probably wouldn't be much longer now and then he would be this scary lady's snack.
Radley was exhausted when the shaking and the noise stopped. There was another loud, strange door sound, and then the door on Radley's side was open. It was so cold. He snuggled down into his blankets and tried to stay balled up, but he was so tired. And so hungry. The gentle shaking started again. He wanted to peek out and see what was happening but he was too afraid. If she saw him again, what would she do? Radley stayed perfectly still until the cage was set down. There was some gentle rustling next to him, but he wasn't coming out any time soon. The sun was back up and everything was scary.
The rustling continued, but otherwise everything was quiet and still. Radley decided that maybe it was safe now and the person was gone. He slowly, carefully unrolled and sniffed silently. Everything smelled different. There were so many scents he had never experienced before. Were they scary or were they yummy? Radley couldn't decide. He was still so hungry, and something definitely smelled tasty. It wasn't his food, though.
Radley worked up enough courage to stick his nose out of his blanket fort. Sniff sniff sniff. Yep, something smelled edible. He slowly, carefully, silently snuck his way out of his nest and looked around. Radley couldn't really see very well, but he knew the person was sitting beside the cage, watching. Radley hopped and put up his spikes. Nothing happened. She didn't move at all. The spikes went down, and Radley sniffed again, this time loudly, and with his whole nose wiggling. His teeth stuck out slightly. Something smelled amazing. He cautiously waddled out, looking for the scent's owner. It was coming from his bowl. He rushed over, hoping his burst would be so fast the person didn't notice him, and then he stuck his whiskers in the bowl and sniffed and sniffed. It was... something. Something that smelled really good. It was moving. Radley ate one. It was so crunchy and juicy and good. He snuffed around for more, but there weren't any. And then the person moved. She had seen him! Radley raced back to his hide and waited. And then he smelled another yummy thing. It was the same as the last thing. He peeked out. The person had it in her hand. But it smelled so good. Radley rushed up, chomp chomp chomped it down and then scuttered back into his blankets, legs flying out from under him in his panic. He watched from safety as the new person put his food into the bowl, along with some more tasty things. "You've never had mealworms before, have you?" she said softly. Mealworms. Radley liked those. The person said goodnight and turned off the sun. She said "I'll be back in a few hours to check on you." And then she closed the door.
The little hedgehog waited until it was definitely safe, and then he scurried back to the bowl. His old food was gross compared to these new mealworm things. So he ate all the worms, and then some of the food. Radley finally wasn't hungry anymore. He went to get a drink, but his bottle was gone. Instead there was a bowl like his food came in. He peered in. It was full of water. Snuff snuff. It seemed safe. Radley lapped at it. It was good. Fresh, too. He drank a lot, and it was so much easier than with the bottle.
Once Radley felt better, he sniffed around the cage. Everything else was the same. But something loomed over him in the distance. It had huge high walls, and something warm was coming from it. It was big and scary, so Radley ignored it and ran some laps around his home.
Just as he began to get tired, the person came back. She left the sun off, so it was still dark. Radley felt safe in the dark. He sat next to his food dish and watched as she came closer. She opened Radley's roof, and reached in. She smelled like mealworms. Radley waddled over to have a look, and there it was. A great big one! He munched it down and watched, sniffing and ready to ball up at any second. The person scooped out his blankets and moved them away. And then she took the food, and then the water. This was it. Radley was about to be eaten! He ran to a corner and balled up, but there was nowhere to hide. Big, scary hands grabbed him and lifted him off the ground. Huff huff huff, Radley protested loudly! "Put me down! Don't eat me!" The person held him gently, letting him ball up, and ignoring his spikiness completely. She walked over to the huge box in the distance, and set Radley in. She covered him with soft stuff like his blankets, and then she set something on top of him. It was like his old cardboard box, but it smelled different. And it was really sturdy. Radley dug down into the fluffy, soft, comfy bedding around him. It smelled weird, but it was warm and dark and safe. He decided that he liked it. Dig dig dig, sniff sniff. It was nice. Radley peeked his head out and looked up at the new person, sniffing loudly. "Thank you!" he insisted, "it's so warm!" And then he went back inside and had a nap.
While Radley napped, the person left. When he woke up, it was dark and quiet, so Radley decided to go exploring. Very softly, he emerged from his new hide to look around. It was so big. Radley rushed along the walls, finding his food and water along the way. He also found a soft squishy thing, shaped like himself. He bit it. It was mushy but not edible. Radley dragged it around a while. It was fun! He kept following the walls until he found a big round thing. It smelled like his hide, but it was sideways. Radley went under it, but he stuck out on all sides. What was it for? He sniffed the big circle, and then he bit the big circle. Nothing. And then he put a paw into the big circle, and it wiggled! Just a little, but it definitely moved! Radley put another foot in. It didn't move this time. He put one back foot in, so slowly, and then his other back foot. Everything wobbled. "This is weird!" Radley exclaimed. It didn't seem scary, but he still didn't know what it was for. He took a step forward. It moved underneath him. Another step. It moved again. He felt stable even though he was moving. He started to run. The big circle kept up with him. Radley stayed in the middle, legs racing underneath him, as the circle turned and spun. It was great! Radley didn't run into corners anymore and he could go as far as he wanted. He ran until he was exhausted, and then he fell asleep right there, in his new friend, the spinny circle.
The sun came up again, slowly, and Radley still slept. The new person came in to check on him, and he was still asleep in the circle. She picked him up gently, and he woke up, huff huffed, and then shifted a little. He was too tired to ball up. But she just set him back down inside the dark hide, and Radley went back to sleep.
When Radley woke up it was dark, and he was still in his new home. He ran over and said hello to the spinny circle, and then he had a drink. His food bowl was empty. But then the person came in, and she smelled yummy! Radley watched in awe as the person dropped more worms, other smelly things, and some of his old food into the bowl. And then she sat down beside him. Radley tried some of everything. It was all so tasty! As he nibbled and munched away, she told him what everything was. "That's a cricket. That's a dubia roach. Oh that's a hornworm! Those are big! That's banana." Radley finished everything quickly and he was left with his old food. She hadn't given him enough new stuff. The person explained, "If I give you too much good stuff too fast, you'll get sick. I'm sorry. You have to switch foods slowly." Radley was sad, but he understood well enough, and he ate some of the old, stale kibble his last person had fed him. It was yucky in comparison.
And then, once Radley had finished eating, the person picked him up again. He huffed and grumbled, but he only balled up part way. She had just fed him all that yummy stuff after all. She set Radley on her lap and offered him a small, fluffy bag to hide in. He ran straight in and dug around. It smelled strange and new but it was nice. Radley flumped over in the bag and stuck his nose out the opening to smell what was going on. The person just watched him. He spent an hour in the bag, quietly cuddling with the scary person who maybe wasn't that scary after all. She had the best snacks, a big house, a spinny circle thing, and cuddles. Radley decided his new life was pretty good, and he couldn't wait to get more of that yummy new food. He waddled out of the bag, up to his new person's hand. And then he splatted down for a rest. She stroked his quills softly and it felt okay. It wasn't too scary. Radley was happy before, but now everything was so much better!
His new human picked him up and set him back in his new house. She said "I'll let you play now. Enjoy your wheel. Hopefully you make it to bed tonight." And then she left. A wheel. That's what the spinny thing is. He loved it, and he loved her. Stuff was still scary, but it was less scary, and the food was good. Radley might still huff and pop when new stuff happened, but he knew he would be happy and safe here with his new person. He ran on the wheel again until he fell asleep.
|04-16-2016, 01:39 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Austin, TX
Cool and well written! The world needs more hedgehog fiction.
The Pleasantries of Princess Penelope Pricklepants
|04-16-2016, 09:52 AM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Hamilton Ontario
Well done-I love how it totally depicts a hedgehog personality. The way you used taste, smell, and sight were spot on.
Prudence's Proud Mum Since February 2016
I share my home with one, big, slobbery dog, a ragdoll, a blind domestic shorthair, a slinky tabby, one crowntail betta, a double tail halfmoon betta, and our latest quilled addition... Prudence!
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